Iran: US May Not Get Islamic Support
By JOSEPH PANOSSIAN
September 29, 2001, 4:00 PM EDT
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Islamic nations meeting early next month might not endorse an anti-terrorism campaign unless it is led by the United Nations and not the United States, the Iranian foreign minister said Saturday.
Foreign ministers from the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference will meet in Qatar to a discuss a "unified position" and ways to cooperate with the rest of the world after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said.
Iran and several Arab nations have strongly opposed any anti-terror coalition led by the United States. Other Arab nations, however, particularly in the Persian Gulf, have promised to help the United States against terror.
In Lebanon on a tour of Mideast nations, Kharrazi said terrorism can be confronted only through an "authentic" international cooperation and under the auspices of the United Nations.
The special OIC conference "may not support any initiative that is not supervised by the U.N.," the Iranian minister said.
Kharrazi said the conference would be held Oct. 6. But Qatar and the Saudi Arabia-based OIC have yet to confirm the session. On Friday, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers said they had asked for an OIC meeting to discuss the attacks and "help in getting the culprits." Pakistani officials said the meeting would probably be held Oct. 9.
The United States has said the prime suspect in the attacks is Osama bin Laden, who has been living in Afghanistan as a guest of the Taliban. Washington has threatened retaliation against the Taliban if they refuse to hand him over.
Kharrazi arrived in Lebanon from Syria, where he met with Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa and President Bashar Assad.
Syria and Iran, two countries that the United States accuses of sponsoring terrorism, have condemned the Sept. 11 attacks. But like most Arab nations, they are wary of any military strikes not coordinated by the United Nations and fear that other Arab countries, such as Iraq, might be targeted in a U.S.-led campaign.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a more moderate Arab country, told President Bush on Friday that most Arabs and Muslims were standing with the United States in the "fight against evil."
In Syria, Kharrazi said the Islamic world stands against terrorism and demands it be uprooted, but added that "any occupation of land by an aggressor should be resisted."
He said there should be a distinction between terrorism and resistance to occupation, an apparent reference to the year-old uprising against Israel.
Copyright © 2001, The Associated Press